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The Howard Group supports the Department of Land Economy’s flagship lecture series, The Denman Lecture, which attracts top speakers from around the world to present their latest ideas at the University of Cambridge.

Established in 1979, the lecture series is named after the Department of Land Economy’s founder, Donald Denman. Since its inauguration, it has attracted leading academics from around the world, speaking on topics across the built and natural environment, economics and planning.

In Michaelmas term 2016, David Pitt-Watson delivered the latest lecture in the series in Gonville & Caius college.


David Pitt-Watson is former head of funds and director of Hermes. There he founded a sustainable investment service advising on £125bn of assets. He is currently an executive fellow at the London Business School, chair of the UNEP finance initiative, treasurer of Oxfam and board member of NESTA, ICGN, and Oxford Analytica. In 2016 he published his second book, “What They Do with Your Money: How the Financial System Fails Us, and How to Fix it”, the subject of his lecture.


The study and application of economic theory should be to “provide a plentiful substance for the people” wrote Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations. David Pitt-Watson asked the audience – students, lecturers and practitioners – to think whether the systems, predictions and theory that economics espouses today is delivering on this. He argued, with examples from the financial system today, that it is failing.

He explored practical solutions to address this, including: how we can change the theory and teaching of finance; how we can change the beliefs and practices of individuals in the system; and how we can move from narrow company board membership to enfranchisement of all stakeholders.

He ended on a very clear note: that the actors in the system and the mechanisms through which they interact need to change. Critical to this, he argued, is a need to reducing reliance on heavy regulation prone to circumvention, and replace that with mechanisms that support trust.

The full lecture is available online at:


We are excited for the 2017 Denman Lecture which will be hosted in November 2017, and is set to add another fascinating speaker to this series.